Next-generation helmet aims to solve the ”underdeveloped” protection segment for riders
While most modern riding helmets only protect against linear force, the Swedish startup uses groundbreaking technology to counteract rotational force.
By JOHAN MAGNUSSON
January 03, 2023
The Scandinavian equestrian industry has seen a bunch of new brands lately. However, according to entrepreneurs Alexandra Berhe — who’s a rider — and product development expert Erik Liden, the protection segment remains underdeveloped. Last year, they founded Y/ELM+, a Swedish riding safety and protection brand focusing on innovation, style, and user experience. The duo aims to raise the overall safety standard for riders to match it with products in other activity sports such as cycling, skiing, and climbing.
— We combine technology and material innovation to provide high-performing, unobtrusive protection solutions that raise riding safety standards and enable a freer riding experience. But not only that. Equally important is that riders actually want to wear the product. That’s why we put so much effort and energy into making our products feel comfortable and look good, Berhe explains.
Erik Liden is a former member of the team behind Swedish snow sports and cycling protection brand POC. He describes the lack of innovation in the riding product category as striking.
— Also, the need to raise the bar for safety and comfort for the new generation of riders is urgent, he states. To support our pursuit of state-of-the-art protection for riders, we have a stellar internal team and a network of people rooted in the tech, safety, and outdoor scene.
The duo explains that most modern riding helmets only protect against linear force, like the impact on a helmet dropped straight to the ground, while all hits from falling off a moving horse are angled. Such a fall can cause rotational motion.
— The chief danger of a rotational motion is that it may stretch the rider’s brain and lead to serious injuries, Berhe explains. Our first helmet, called Hybrid 1.0, provides complete protection through all steps of a fall accident. It’s built with a MIPS-powered (Multi-directional Impact Protection System, a Swedish technology, Ed’s note) low-friction layer inside the helmet to counteract rotational force, an ABS safety shell that spreads out the impact energy, and a polymer fusion core for superior shock absorption. For the feel, fit, and convenience, it also includes an adjustable fit system, a magnetic safety buckle for swift locking of the chin strap, and variable top ventilation.
What was the most challenging part of the development process?
— To try and develop a new product during the pandemic with all issues that came along with that, the lack of materials, longer lead times and rising freight. It created a lot of bumps on the road for us and a couple of months of postponement of the brand launch. To avoid delays in the future we are looking out for additional producers as a complement to the ones we already have — protection as core also enables us to develop our range from gear into wear in the near future, where the market opportunity is greater. Our next product is a back protection vest, optimized for free outdoor riding where the majority of back injuries occur, which uses a high-grade shock absorbing protection system called AVA (Absorb. Vent. Adapt), Berhe concludes.